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Mike D'Antoni on Lakers' defense: 'In the paint, we're awful'

December 10, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni questions a foul call during a game against Sacramento on Dec. 6.
Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni questions a foul call during a game against… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

Mike D'Antoni has seen enough of big men setting career-highs against the Lakers.

"In the paint, we're awful and we've got to get tougher. We've got to get a little more stronger there," the Lakers coach said Tuesday. "If we want to be a good team and if we want to get better, then that's definitely a point of emphasis."

Toronto power forward Amir Johnson scored a career-high 32 points Sunday against the Lakers. Other career-highs against them: Anthony Davis blistered them for 32 points in New Orleans, Washington's Nene Hilario nailed them for 30 and low-scoring Denver center Timofey Mozgov matched his personal best with 23 points.

Gasol needs to step up defensively despite being bothered by a mild sprain in his right ankle.

"We've got to have him back [ability-wise] as soon as we can, obviously, because we're not going to win with Kobe [Bryant] coming back and with Pau struggling," D'Antoni said. "We've got to get them both up to a great level."

Bryant had only nine points and committed eight turnovers in his season debut against Toronto. He then said he wasn't worried about team chemistry because the Lakers hadn't played like "gangbusters" without him.

"I have to disagree with that," D'Antoni said. "We were 6-2 in our last eight and I thought we played extremely well, winning three on the road. That's not quite right. I'm really proud of what the guys did."

D'Antoni said he was eager to incorporate Bryant into the lineup.

"It's difficult. If it was anybody else, it would be kind of tragic," D'Antoni said. "But it's Kobe Bryant. We're happy to do this. It's just the necessary process that we have to go through."

The Lakers will make a lineup change Tuesday against Phoenix, inserting Shawne Williams as a starter in place of Robert Sacre, who started two games.

Williams got the nod primarily to guard Channing Frye, a perimeter-oriented big man for the Suns.

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